Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood announced Saturday the nomination of the group's deputy chairman and chief financier, Khairat al-Shater, as its candidate for May's presidential elections. The decision was a departure from the organization's pledge not to field a candidate as a way to allay fears of monopolizing power and has thus been highly criticized by liberals and the military council -- and has caused rifts within the Muslim Brotherhood itself, seeing three leaders resign in the decision's aftermath. Shater, an accomplished engineer and business man, spent about 12 years in prison under the regime of ousted President of Hosni Mubarak for charges including "reviving" the banned Muslim Brotherhood, terrorism, and money laundering. The Muslim Brotherhood's deputy leader, Mamoud Hussein, said the group reversed its decision to field a candidate just days before the close of nominations to counter "attempts to abort the revolution" and to ensure a transition from military to civilian rule.
In a meeting on Sunday in Istanbul, the "Friends of Syria" recognized the Syrian National Council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and agreed to send millions of dollars in assistance and equipment to the Syrian opposition. The United States joined Britain and several Arab countries in a move closer to direct intervention in Syria, with the United States agreeing to send communications equipment to the oppposition while Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states committed to establishing a multi-million dollar fund to pay opposition fighters in order to encourage defection. There remains no consensus on providing arms for the opposition. However, the decision shows a growing belief that despite President Bashar al-Assad's agreement to United Nations and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan, the mediation efforts are failing to end violence. Government troops meanwhile raided the southern town of Dael, and clashes continued in Idlib province and Aleppo on Monday as Annan prepared to brief the United Nations Security Council on progress in peace efforts.
Arguments & Analysis
‘Political imaginaries in Saudi Arabia: Revolutionaries without a revolution' (Rosie Bsheer, Jadaliyya)
"The regime's firm stance against all calls for change does not bode well for those who aim to work within the system, no matter how corrupt it is. Despite lessons from the Arab uprisings, the ruling family insists on presenting itself as invincible and refuses to hold officials accountable for egregious human rights violations committed in the last year. Even citizens outside Qatif who have in the last year believed King Abdullah's seductive reform package are coming to realize the futility of such empty promises. Yet the regime knows that it has every reason to feel invincible. Life, after all, takes on an eerie normalcy only fifteen minutes outside revolutionary Qatif. In Dammam and al-Khobar, the Eastern Province's other main cities, Qatif and its politics seem a lifetime away. As do other acts of protest that, given Saudi repression, constitute milestones but nonetheless serve little by way of compelling the Saudi regime to attend to any of Saudi citizens' demands."
‘Tales from Café Tahrir: Syria's greater revolution' (Sarah Mousa, Al Jazeera English)
"The question of pro-regime sects, such as the Alawites, is a more problematic one than that of more dormant groups such as the Kurds. The politicisation of Alawites in particular has made them a symbol of disdain among the population, leaving little opportunity for Alawites opposed to the government to voice their views. Alawites have come to be known as the privileged, the informers and the thugs of the country. The threat of retribution against them, following the revolution, means that the circle of regime supporters will remain unified. It is important for the Syrian opposition to reassure members of this sect and to make an effort to protect dissident Alawites."
‘China and Syria: A question of responsibility' (Kerry Brown & Cassidy Hazelbaker, Open Democracy)
"Beijing knows what is happening in Syria is untenable - and the comments of official spokespersons as Kofi Annan arrived in China to garner support for his UN mission may indicate a slight adjustment of its view, if no guarantee of a change. But so far, it can't articulate an active but non-interventionist policy. At present, then, China's position - however it is explained and however logical it can look - lays it open to accusations of expediency and moral bankruptcy. China rejects the role of stakeholder crafted for it from outside. But this still presents it with the challenge of finding the moral courage and strategic intelligence to develop a persuasive stance of its own when international crises arise. Syria remains an opportunity as well as a challenge for China. The world is waiting."
--Tom Kutsch & Mary Casey
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